Hormones are important for … well … everything. We literally can’t live without them. But what happens when the balance shifts? What happens to our bodies and brains? To help answer that, we are going to take a closer look at one in particular that can affect many aspects of a woman’s life. Today we are looking at low estrogen levels and how they affect our sex lives (and lives in general).
WHAT IS ESTROGEN?
“Estrogen or oestrogen is a category of sex hormone responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics” Wikipedia.
But that’s not all it does (and it’s honestly too much for one article), however one interesting example is Estrogen regulates DNA repair mechanisms in the brain and has neuroprotective effects. Also, sudden lower levels can affect women’s mood. And anyone who’s had a baby will know all about this.
WHAT MAKES ESTROGEN DROP?
Drops can be the result of several reasons. Since estrogen is largely produced by the ovaries, any damage to this part of the body can lower the levels of this hormone. Problems in this department can also come from…
- premature ovarian failure
- congenital conditions, such as Turner syndrome
- thyroid disorders
- excessive exercise
- being severely underweight
- low-functioning pituitary gland
LOW ESTROGEN SYMPTOMS
Irregular periods: Estrogen is one of the main hormones driving the menstrual cycle. Low estrogen may lead to missed or irregular periods.
Infertility: Low levels can hinder ovulation and make it hard to get pregnant, leading to infertility.
Weak bones: Estrogen helps keep the bones healthful and strong. Women who are post-menopausal have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Weight Problems: Since it plays a role in how fat is stored, it can be harder to maintain a healthy weight.
Hot flashes: These usually happen to women going through menopause because of the hormone drops.
Depression: Estrogen is thought to increase serotonin (a chemical in the brain that lifts mood). A deficiency might cause a decline in serotonin. This can lead to mood swings or depression.
Increased UTIs: A lack of proper estrogen levels might thin the tissue in the urethra. This can increase the chances of getting a urinary tract infection.
…And, of course, problems in the sex department.
HOW LOW ESTROGEN SYMPTOMS AFFECT SEX
Estrogen helps increase uterine growth and thickens the vaginal wall. It also helps with vaginal lubrication. So, if a women starts having problems with this hormone, sex could end up very painful. On top of this, you can add tender breasts to the list too.
Then there is low energy, fatigue, headaches, and vaginal atrophy. Also known as atrophic vaginitis, it’s a slow deterioration that comes as you get older. It’s characterized by a thinner, dryer, and even shrunken vagina as well as bleeding, itchiness, or feeling like you have to go to the bathroom after sex.
However, let’s remember what was on the last list.
Even if someone isn’t close to menopause, low estrogen levels can wreak havoc on the body and mind. Weight gain and low moods or depression don’t exactly make people want to be hot and heavy in the bedroom. Neither does the burning hell that are UTIs.
TREATING LOW ESTROGEN
First, you obviously have to visit a doctor so they can do a background and some tests. If you need a hormone boost there are several options…
- Hormone Replacement Therapy – This puts estrogen back into the body but not everyone can take this route. For example, it’s mostly for menopausal women – and people with a history of stroke or heart attacks are a no-go.
- Healthy Diet & Exercise – Yes, you knew this was coming. Medications can’t do all the heavy lifting, and it’s all-around good to eat a balanced diet and move around as much as you can. Also, try to reduce stress and get proper sleep.
Some studies suggest eating foods with Phytoestrogens (which are plant-based estrogens).
- Legumes (soybeans, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts)
- Seeds (flaxseed, sunflower seed)
- Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries)
- Fruits (plums, pears, apples, grapes and berries)
LOW ESTROGEN SYMPTOMS – END THOUGHTS
In women, having estrogen levels drop is sort of inevitable (menopause). However, younger women can feel the effects as well from other sources. If any of this feels familiar, check with your doctor – especially before going any natural routes.
In the past, there was nothing much women could do. But now, there are several options.